Next month, the Parkland community will have one of its own representing them on the Broward County School Board when the mother of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim takes her oath of office and her place on the dais.
Lori Alhadeff, a former classroom teacher whose daughter Alyssa was one of 14 students killed last Feb. 14, avoided a runoff when she was elected with an overwhelming 64 percent of the vote in August, beating Tennille Decoste and Michael Kottler for the District 4 seat, which includes Parkland, Coral Springs, and Tamarac. She replaces Abby Freedman, who did not run.
“While this journey has been long, this is only the beginning. I will now use the mandate that the voters have given me to go and ensure that all kids and teachers are safe in all schools,” Alhadeff said in a statement after her victory.
“I will fight for our amazing teachers to ensure that they have a larger role in the major decisions that the School Board makes, and to make sure that they have the resources they need to do their job. I will provide the transparency and accountability that this district has been lacking for far too long,” said Alhadeff, who has master’s degree in education.
“The forces to maintain the status quo organized to defeat me, but they themselves were defeated. I look forward to working with every stakeholder who has the best interest of our kids, our teachers, and the district in mind. This community deserves nothing less.”
Her addition to the nine-member school board weakens the solid support that Superintendent Robert Runcie has enjoyed in recent years. She has criticized his response to the shooting and the slow progress of an $800 million bond that voters approved four years ago to improve crumbling schools. Freedman, the school board member Alhadeff replaces, typically supported Runcie.
Alhadeff told the Sun-Sentinel after she was elected that she ran to honor her daughter, Alyssa, a 14-year-old freshman who played soccer.
“Her death empowered me to want to run,” Alhadeff said. “I know Alyssa would be so proud, and I want to make sure what happens to my daughter doesn’t happen to another family.